CA's higher cigarette tax could affect sales in NV near state line

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TRUCKEE, Calif. (KOLO) - "It's averaging 8 or 9 dollars a pack now," says Caleb McAnelly-Kumle, a manager at The Smoke Island in Truckee. He says he's had to explain to several customers why the price of a pack of cigarettes suddenly skyrocketed as of April 1.

Pack of Camel cigarettes, Photo Date: January 5, 2011

"They'll come in and be like, 'It's so expensive!'" says McAnelly-Kumle. But he says they still fork over the cash.

"They still do it. People like cigarettes, you know," he says.

He has heard from several smokers that they plan to take their business to Nevada. It's something Rachel Ohnstad, a smoker in Truckee, can understand.

"It's a lot cheaper!" says Ohnstad.

"I'd probably go to Reno," agrees Deana Wilson, another Truckee smoker.

That's not surprising to the folks at the Gold Ranch Casino in Verdi, which sells tobacco products at its convenience store. The average cost for a pack of cigarettes there is around $6.50.

"We anticipated an increase in business so we ordered some extra cigarettes to make sure we have a good supply on hand for people," says Tom MacIntosh, General Manager of Gold Ranch.

California voters approved the $2 per pack cigarette tax hike in November. One of the goals was to encourage smokers to quit. But some smokers say it's going to take a lot more than higher costs.

"People don't change that much," says Mike Walker, a smoker from Sparks. "They just go where it's cheaper."

It may even encourage some smokers to get their tobacco from a different product. Caleb McAnelly-Kumle, manager of The Smoke Shop, believes the higher tax may prompt some smokers to use chewing tobacco instead.

"It will still be cheaper than a pack of cigarettes and I feel like more people will turn to that alternative," he says.

McAnelly-Kumle says the tax on chewing tobacco and other tobacco products will go up later in the year.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the last time Nevada raised its cigarette tax was in 2015. It went up $1.00, bringing the total cigarette tax in Nevada to $1.80.